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FUTURE WATCH | Catching up with the Condors

by Meg Tilley / Edmonton Oilers

Photo by Mark Nessia / Bakersfield Condors
According to Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s fair to say that no team knows that better than the American Hockey League’s (AHL’s) Bakersfield Condors.


The Oilers affiliate has overcome a number of challenges throughout the first half of the season, from recalled players to injuries to illness.

With a number of healthy players returning to the lineup, and the playoffs in reach, Head Coach Gerry Fleming doesn’t hesitate to stress what the team is all about.

“It’s the same focus as it has been all year: get guys ready for the NHL,” said Fleming. “To prepare them so that when they go up there they’re ready to step in and perform a job and hopefully can stick with the Oilers.”

16 teams will participate in the AHL postseason, with the top four deriving from each of the AHL’s divisions, — Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific — each team will be ranked by a points percentage system (points earned divided by points available).

This year, according to the AHL, there will be a possibility of what’s been deemed a “crossover” that could occur in each conference. This means that if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would compete in the other division’s bracket.

Talk surrounding the Calder Cup Playoffs picks up after the start of the New Year.

At this time, many teams are approaching the halfway mark of number of games played, and start to either shift focus on what needs to be accomplished to achieve a spot in the postseason, while others choose to focus on the task at hand. 

An Oilers affiliate hasn’t won a Calder Cup since the 1992-93 postseason run, when at that time they were known as the Cape Breton Oilers.

Though the Condors are only 42 games into their season, with a 20-18-2-2 record, the Condors bench boss says they can’t lose sight of what’s important.

Photo supplied.
“Our philosophy and the way we’ve approached things all year has just been focused on the process — what you have to do every day to get better as an individual and make your team better as a group,” said Fleming.

“So that’s what we’ll be focused on: the next opponent, what we have to do to prepare for them, how we’re going to approach it and just go from there. You can’t look beyond that. You just have to stay focused on the process and continue to work on the daily things that you need to work on to get better every day.”

Mirroring their NHL affiliate, the Condors were faced with unforeseen injuries and unexpected illnesses that suddenly plagued Bakersfield players.

“We’ve had a lot of call ups, a lot of up and downs, some injuries, so hopefully we can stay healthy, and if we are healthy we can get some consistency in our lineup and get on a little bit of a roll here, “ said Fleming.

“We’ve been .500 for most of the season, so hopefully with some consistency in the lineup we can get over that hump and make a good playoff push.”


The Condors may have been down, but don’t count them out. Ultimately, the AHL team was forced to adjust, and adjust they did.

“I think, overall, we’ve done a good job,” said Fleming. “We played players maybe in positions or roles that they normally wouldn’t play in. We saw how they reacted and for the most part the guys did a good job, and I think for a lot of younger guys it’s been great for their development to get those opportunities.”

Hearing a player has been recalled by the Oilers could be considered a bittersweet moment, as it’s the Condors team chemistry that is ultimately the one at risk, but overall, it’s a move that’s welcomed said Fleming. 

“Ultimately, that’s our job here, it’s to prepare guys to play in Edmonton, so seeing guys go up and do well, it’s very rewarding as a staff, and the players on the other side see the success that guys have had going up so it makes them even more motivated to do their best and work hard and get that opportunity. So, for the most part, guys really stepped in, especially some of the call-ups we had to get from Norfolk.”

Photo by Mark Nessia / Bakersfield Condors
Seven games into their season, the Oilers recalled then–Condors player Iiro Pakarinen. Four days later, Edmonton followed suit by recalling defenceman Darnell Nurse and three days after that Leon Draisaitl was brought up.

As the Condors adapted to the changes, they suddenly started to face more challenges as players fell ill or succumbed to injuries that removed them from the lineup for an undetermined period of time.

But in instances such as these, whether a player has to be removed from the lineup or has been called up, it gives Fleming and his coaches an opportunity to take a look at what other players have to offer and how they can help both the team and their player development going forward, such as the case with Condors defenceman Joey LaLeggia.

“We placed guys that normally played defence, like a guy like Joey, we used him up front and he had some success,” said the Bakersfield Head Coach.

“I think that helped his overall game and when we threw him back he’s seeing the ice different, he understood his position a little bit better, so I think having that club in your bag, and having that versatility in your game is very important for a young guy — for anybody for that matter. To have that and to know you can play both positions equally as well, it’s just another asset to have in your game.”

Though they were left to navigate what could be compared to choppy waters, Fleming said a number of players were willing to fill in roles — perceived outside their comfort level — where needed in order to help their Condors find success.

“There’s a few guys that have taken advantage of it — like [Marco Roy], Josh Currie, Josh Winquist — all of these guys have been thrust into positions that they don’t normally get or ice time that they don’t normally get, have relished the opportunity and done well. It’s tough to take those guys out of the lineup now.”

It’s said that you never really know what you’re capable of until you’re backed into a corner. This season the Condors have proved that no matter what position they find themselves in, they’re ready to spread their wings even further than they have before.

Statistics For In The System Through Past Seasons: 14-15 | 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bakersfield (AHL) - Forwards


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
GREG CHASE C 20 19 1 6 7 +3 25
BRADEN CHRISTOFFER LW 21 30 1 3 4 -11 57
JOSH CURRIE* C 23 30 4 6 10 +6 33
LEON DRAISAITL C 20 6 1 1 2 -5 4
MATTHEW FORD*   RW 31 38 19 17 36 +3 40
LUKE GAZDIC   LW 26 3 1 2 3 +3 0
RYAN HAMILTON   LW 30 40 14 9 23 -8 34
KELLEN JONES*   LW 25 12 1 2 3 0 6
ZACK KASSIAN   RW 24 7 2 1 3 0 16
KALE KESSY   LW 23 37 7 5 12 +8 47
JUJHAR KHAIRA   LW 21 26 6 10 16 -3 26
ROB KLINKHAMMER   LW 29 6 4 1 5 -2 8
ALEXIS LOISEAU*   C 21 12 1 2 3 +1 2
ANDREW MILLER   RW/C 27 34 11 19 30 -5 10
MITCH MOROZ   LW 21 30 2 4 6 +3 83
PHILIP MCRAE* C 25 20 3 2 5 -7 10
IIRO PAKARINEN   RW 24 4 1 2 3 0 4
TYLER PITLICK   RW 24 18 3 6 9 -4 4
KYLE PLATZER RW 20 34 5 8 13 -3 16
MARC-OLIVIER ROY* C 21 25 5 3 8 -1 14
ANTON SLEPYSHEV LW 21 23 6 2 8 -6 14
JOSH WINQUIST*   LW 22 16 7 9 16 -2 22
BOGDAN YAKIMOV   C/W 21 19 3 4 7 -5 8
DANIIL ZHARKOV (INJURED)
LW 21 - - - - - -
Bakersfield (AHL) - Defencemen


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER   d 21 1 0 0 0 0 0
MARK FAYNE   d 28 4 0 1 1 0 4
MARTIN GERNAT   d 22 22 0 3 3 0 14
brad hunt   D 27 32 7 22 29 0 12
JOEY LALEGGIA   D 23 38 7 13 20 +11 28
DAVID MUSIL D 22 41 3 6 9 +4 25
NIKITA NIKITIN   D 29 25 1 10 11 -11 0
DARNELL NURSE   D 20 6 0 1 1 0 7
JORDAN OESTERLE   d 23 34 2 18 20 -6 8
NICK PAGEAU*   D 27 12 0 1 1 -5 2
GRIFFIN REINHART   D 21 17 1 5 6 1 12
DILLON SIMPSON
D 22 32 1 7 8 -1 12
Norfolk (ECHL)


Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER D 21 42 1 13 14 +3 35
GREG CHASE F 20 19 11 6 17 -1 22
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CALEB JONES  D 18 53 8 31 39 -2 54 PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
ETHAN BEAR  D 18 54 12 39 51   +6 31 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (WHL)
NCAA & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A   P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   LW 22 27 5  7 12 +4 16 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 20 2 4 6 -4 16 UMASS-AMHERST (NCAA)
JOHN MARINO d 18 36 2 15 17 +2 20 TRI-CITY (USHL)
AIDAN MUIR LW 20 25 1 4 5 -11 14 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL   C 21 25 3 10 13 +5 2 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK C 24 55 12 13 25 -10 32 CHEKHOV VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN   D 25 50 10 24 34 +11 39 JOKERIT HELSINKI (KHL)
ZIYAT PAIGIN  F 20 35 9 17 26 +4 8 SOCHI HC (KHL)
  8 0 1 1 +2 2 KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN  F 26 9 2 1 3 -2 16 FARJESTADS BK KARLSTAD (Sweden)
  13 5 1 6 +1 53 ILVES TAMPERE (finland)
2016 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 7 2 1 3 +7 4 SWEDEN
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
KEVEN BOUCHARD   19 8 3 2 2 3.48 .867 MONCTON WILDCATS (qmjHL)
  21 4 13 2 3.97 .872 baie-comeau (qmjHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 22 26 14 8 3 2.70 .921 bakersfield (AHL)
EETU LAURIKAINEN 22 7 3 4 0 3.62 .899 BAKERSFIELD (AHL)
8 3 5 0 2.16 .920 HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)
ZACH NAGELVOORT   21 9 5 2 1 3.14 .888 michigan (ncaa)
MIROSLAV SVOBODA   20 1 0 1 0 6.00 .750 TRINEC OCELARI (CZECH)
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